Happy Monday, everyone! We can choose to start today's Fantasy Baseball Today newsletter on a positive or negative note, and those who know me well enough understand that while I am quite self-deprecating, I also like to view things with a silver lining. It's a weird mix, but it works for me. So let's start today off with some good news, and anyone who currently rosters Guardians SP Triston McKenzie had an excellent Fantasy Baseball weekend. 

McKenzie made a statement in his season debut by looking like the ace he flashed at times (for solid stretches) in 2022. Of course, McKenzie has missed the first two months of the season on the IL, but he looked no worse for the wear in his 2023 debut. He threw five shutout innings, allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out 10. McKenzie displayed excellent command and swing-and-miss stuff, generating 15 swinging strikes on just 79 pitches. What should have his Fantasy Baseball managers most excited about the future is the fact that McKenzie's fastball velocity was slightly higher than we last saw it, averaging 92.9 MPH. 

With a varied and consistent pitch mix, McKenzie has big-time upside the rest of the way and if anything,  I'd be looking to buy high. If you're following that plan of action, you might want to do it before his next outing. Some might look at the schedule, see the Astros and get spooked into wanting to fade. However, despite Houston's offensive expectations, they rank 22nd in wOBA against right-handed pitchers.

Let's now dive into some of the other action from the weekend.

You can Betts on Mookie

Mookie Betts had an outstanding game on Friday night that is a microcosm of his recent success. He went 4-for-4 with a double dong (two home runs) and even managed to steal a base. With 15 home runs and three bags this season, Betts continues to be a force to be reckoned with. He has multiple position eligibility and gives Fantasy Baseball managers a weekly edge at the second base position compared to the rest of your league mates.

Miller struggles and raises questions

Bryce Miller struggled for his second consecutive start and it appears this Cinderella story might be coming to an abrupt end. Miller lasted only 2 1/3 innings and allowed seven earned runs. His struggles with secondary pitches have been evident, and if his fastball isn't working, he seems to lack effectiveness. With consecutive starts resulting in 7+ runs allowed and a pitch mix that makes you question whether teams just needed to see him a few times before figuring him out, it's safe to say he probably belongs on your bench in weekly lineup leagues for now.

Key injury updates

  • Red Sox SP Chris Sale was placed on the IL due to left shoulder inflammation. The team remains hopeful that it's only a minor issue.
  • Yankees SP Nestor Cortes is likely to be placed on the IL with a shoulder injury. The extent of his absence is uncertain, but the hope is that he will only miss a couple of starts.
  • Cubs SP Justin Steele has been diagnosed with a mild left forearm strain and was placed on the IL on Saturday. The team will monitor his progress closely.
  • Tigers SP Eduardo Rodriguez could be out of action for the next 6-8 weeks due to a left index finger injury. Fantasy managers should plan accordingly.
  • Reds SP Hunter Greene is dealing with hip stiffness and will skip his next start. Keep an eye on his status for future outings.

Waiver wire SP replacements

If you're in shallow leagues, these are the SPs you should be looking to target to replace any of the injured pitchers above or any other vacant SP slots in your lineup:

Edward Cabrera tossed six shutout innings, allowing only four hits and one walk while striking out an impressive 10 batters in his last outing. Although he has had a couple of walks issues in his last two starts, his overall numbers show promise with a 4.50 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and a 13.1% swinging strike rate. Cabrera is currently rostered in 67% of leagues and has a favorable matchup against the Royals this week (ranked 28th in wOBA against right-handed pitchers).

Jack Flaherty threw 5 1/3 innings and allowed just one earned run. He accumulated six strikeouts and induced 11 swinging strikes on 101 pitches. Flaherty's fastball and cutter saw an increase in velocity during this start, contributing to his recent success. Over his last four starts, Flaherty has posted an impressive 1.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 25 strikeouts in 24 innings. He is rostered in 78% of leagues and has a favorable matchup against the Rangers this week (ranked 3rd in wOBA against right-handed pitchers).

Logan Allen pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out four in his latest start. Allen generated nine swinging strikes on 95 pitches, displaying solid control and inducing weak contact. With a 2.76 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and a 12.7% swinging strike rate, Allen is certainly lighting up the box scores for now. He is rostered in 70% of leagues and faces the Astros this week (ranked 18th in wOBA against left-handed pitchers).

Domingo German might be back to his old self and he certainly looked like it in his most recent start when he tossed 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only one earned run while striking out six. German generated 12 swinging strikes on 99 pitches, utilizing a mix of his curveball, changeup, and fastball effectively. With a 3.69 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 59 strikeouts over 61 innings, German has been a solid contributor. He is rostered in 74% of leagues and has a matchup against the Red Sox this week.

Yusei Kikuchi racked up eight strikeouts over five innings in his most recent outing. He induced 19 swinging strikes on 89 pitches, relying heavily on his slider, which produced a whopping 11 whiffs. Kikuchi has pitched to a 4.40 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. With a favorable matchup against the  Twins this week (ranked 25th in wOBA against left-handed pitchers), Kikuchi is worth considering starting and scooping in shallower leagues. He is currently rostered in 77% of CBS leagues.

News and notes

  • Aaron Judge wasn't in the lineup Sunday due to a toe injury he suffered making a catch up against the wall in Dodgers stadium. There's a chance he'll have to go on the IL.
  • Manny Machado was reinstated from the IL Friday. He went 1-for-11 in three games this weekend.
  • Royce Lewis took a nasty spill on a collision at first base, where he flipped over and legit landed on his face. It looked like it could have been really bad but he appears to have avoided a concussion.
  • Carlos Rodon was able to throw 30 pitches during a two-up season Friday, and could face live hitters in the next few days. Apparently, his fastball sat at 90-93 mph. Rodon averaged 95.6 with his fastball last year.
  • Brandon Woodruff continues to throw off flat ground and remains hopeful to return from the 60-day IL around the All-Star break. Recently we heard late June but sounds like that timetable has been pushed back a bit.
  • Jose Altuve has missed two straight with an oblique injury.
  • Julio Urias threw a bullpen Saturday and the next step in his rehab will be to face live hitters on Tuesday.
  • Gerrit Cole left his start after 80 pitches Saturday due to cramping.
  • Thairo Estrada is expected to return from the IL Tuesday. He's been out with a sore left wrist.
  • Byron Buxton has missed three straight with a bruised rib.
  • Willy Adames began a rehab assignment at High-A Sunday and could return from the IL this Thursday.
  • Xander Bogaerts has missed two straight with that lingering wrist injury. 
  • Brandon Lowe was scratched Sunday with a back injury, which is what ruined his season last year.
  • Michael Conforto has sat out four straight games with a bruise on his left heel.
  • Tyler O'Neill was shut down for 10 more days on Friday. He's been dealing with a lingering lower back injury.
  • Wade Miley is scheduled to make a rehab start next Sunday at Double-A. He's been on the IL with an injury to his rib cage. 
  • Luis Urias is expected to rejoin the Brewers Tuesday.
  • Joey Votto began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Saturday, which again, hurts Christian Encarnacion-Strand's chances of being promoted.